An independent shop in the heart of Salisbury has just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Castle Galleries on Castle Street opened for the first time on January 17, 1971.

Owner John Lodge, 77, decided to turn his hobby for medals and coins into a business after being forced to leave his career as a butcher.

He explained: “I went to Bishopdown School and then went into business with my father, Lodge Brothers Butchers. It was absolutely brilliant but then I did a silly thing and got married in 1969.

“A couple of weeks before I had a heart attack, which was not the best thing to do to start off a married life but I came through that okay. The only thing is I had to give up my job because it was too heavy.”

As John had always been a passionate collector, opening a shop buying and selling coins and medals seemed the logical thing to do.

Started in the narrow hallway of the family home, over the decades Castle Galleries has become an established business, attracting customers from as far away as Ireland, Cyprus and America.

“We are quite unique, there aren’t many people out there who do mounting so they all come to me which is obviously very nice,” he said.

“It gives me such pleasure because medals are very unique, each one tells you a story and we do a lot of research these days.”

Looking back on the past half a century, John said: “It’s been great actually, it’s been a lovely 50 years.”

Although the past 10 months have been difficult, John, who has two grandsons and two great-grandsons, is looking forward to reopening his shop.

Asked whether he has any plans to retire, the keen collector said: “No, strangely enough medals are not something you retire from. There’s so much going on at the moment and I enjoy it so much.”

At the weekend, John celebrated his milestone anniversary with cards, a banner and framed pictures. It is hoped he will be able to host a proper do when pandemic restrictions end.

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